K-logs: the right term?

The term “k-log” is supposed to represent the next wave of knowledge management. But the term will have a tougher time flying then a lead Zeppelin.

“K-log” has been proposed as a blog-derivative to support knowledge management. There’s been a klogs Yahoo Group since October 2001. In October 2002, Spike Hall offered a definition of the term: “K-logs are weblogs used specifically for the purposes of sharing/documenting knowledge and/or sharing the process of knowledge-making.”

Unfortunately, brand names which begin with an offset “K” are troubled. In common parlance, the prefix “K” brings to mind : Kmart, K-Rations, K Street. Sure, Kmart is a great American company, to its hundreds of thousands of employees and millions of customers, but it was long associated with low quality. If it hadn’t been for Walmart, we might now be hearing about the “Kmartting” of America. “K Street” was an HBO series introduced in 2003 which aimed to glamorize the business of lobbying in our nation’s capitol. Nope, the critics responded, lobbying is dirty– no matter how many pretty and clever people you show in it– and “K street” remains a favorite pinata for political candidates.

Hollywood has gone to “K” street on the big screen as well. Remember K-9 (Jim Belushi & cop dog), K-19: The Widowmaker (Harrison Ford & Russian sub), K-Pax (apparent home planet of Kevin Spacey’s character)? They didn’t exactly inspire toys that would come out of breakfast cereals (think X-Men). Critics retorted that these movie names sounded like breakfast cereals, or even worse, like each other.

Even expanded as the word “knowledge”, it strains for acceptance. “Knowledge worker” was coined by Peter Drucker in 1959, and has since gone to work in the Knowledge Economy, using Knowledge Management, under the direction of a Chief Knowledge Officer. Yet to most of the population, these terms sound like they are ripping off the English language (“you do knowledge and I don’t?”) I’ll leave the last words on the meaning of “knowledge” to Herbie Hancock, who in his Future2Future album, takes a break from playing the keyboard to have a young boy remark, apropos of nothing:

“Simply put, knowledge is the past. It is… technology. Wisdom is the future. It is philosophy. It is people’s hearts that move the age. While knowledge may provide a useful point of reference, it cannot become a force to guide the future.”

I don’t know what Peter Drucker would say to that, but I just feel that Herb’s on to something about the semiotics of the word knowlege. o-k?